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The closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic is putting at risk the futures of millions of children globally, affecting not only their ability to learn, but also their access to nutritious food and health support schemes.

Currently, almost 1.3 billion of children are out of school. Of these, some 370 million – more than the combined population of the United States and Canada – are missing out on school meals. For many in the poorest countries, these are the only meals they can count on.  Similarly, health programmes delivered through school – including deworming or vaccination – have a critical impact on the health of children from struggling families.

In the face of this global crisis, the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF are working together to track, through an online map, this global cohort of school children, and helping national governments to find ways to support them during the pandemic. In place of school meals, governments and WFP are now providing take-home rations, vouchers or cash transfers to children in 68 countries.

WFP and UNICEF are also assisting governments on their strategies to make sure that, when schools open again, health and nutrition services are provided as incentives for the most vulnerable children to return to school.  In particular, the organizations will focus in coming months on a back-to-school initiative in 30 low-income or fragile countries aiming to reach an estimated 10 million children.



What is WFP’s and UNICEF’s joint response?

News from countries that have found alternative solutions to reach schoolchildren

In many countries, governments are providing children with take-home rations, vouchers or cash transfers as an alternative to school meals. WFP and UNICEF are tracking these alternative mechanisms and providing support to governments to find the best solutions depending on their context. Please find below news on country alternatives per region.
Asia & the Pacific
North and Central America
Latin America & the Caribbean
Middle East and North Africa